Dasselbe or das Gleiche?

We use selbe/n (same) to refer to a single person, thing or object.

Mein Bruder und ich haben dieselbe Mutter. 

My brother and I have the same mother. 

Wir sitzen im selben Raum

We are sitting in the same room

We use gleich (the same, equal) to talk about two things that look the same. 

Sie haben das gleiche Kleid an.

They are wearing the same dress.

Wir essen das Gleiche wie gestern.

We are eating the same thing as yesterday.

Notes:

  • The word selbe/n (same) is generally fused with the definite articles der, die and das.

Wir haben dieselbe Chefin. (die Chefin)

We have the same boss (die Chefin = feminine)

Wir schlafen in demselben Hotel. (das Hotel)

We are sleeping in the same hotel (das Hotel = neuter)

  • Gleich (the same, equal to) is an adjective and therefore takes normal adjective endings. Adjektivdeklination 1

Wir tragen den gleichen Rucksack. (der Rucksack)

We are carrying the same backpack (der Rucksack = masculine)

  • Das Gleiche (the same thing) can also be written as a standalone noun, in which case the initial letter is capitalized.

Wir machen jeden Tag das Gleiche.

We do the same thing every day.


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